Social Media: A Strategy for Success?
Angela J. Doty, MA, GCDF, Associate Director of Career Services
“Can you hear me now?” New gadgets and technological toys appear on the market daily. Cell phones that used to only make calls now include features like texting, cameras and picture messaging, e-mail, and web browsers. They’re even being marketed as “robots.” You can download a plethora of “apps,” or applications, that allow you to access specific information in real time. At your fingertips are turn-by-turn directions to every Starbucks in the neighborhood. (Actually, I wouldn’t mind that app.)
This technology impacts more than the access of information. The landscape of contacting and connecting with other people has changed, too. This generation of college students is leading the way with their Facebook and Twitter accounts. Many parents have joined the online social networking community, too, so you know what it’s all about. Instead of sending an e-mail or even talking on the phone, students text and instant message one another. The connection is immediate, because they carry their phones with them everywhere they go. They would feel naked without them.
These devices and apps have also influenced the job search scene. In a competitive market, job seekers are using technology, especially social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), to leverage and market themselves. When used strategically, this new media has the potential of being an effective tool in the hunt for internships and full-time employment. The key word here is strategic. With integrity rising to the top of the list of desired characteristics in employees according to the National Association of Colleges & Employers (NACE), it is no wonder employers check Facebook and MySpace to assess candidates’ character and credibility. So, why not be proactive and intentional about one’s online presence?
Savvy job seekers would be wise to develop a LinkedIn profile (LinkedIn.com). This professional networking site allows individuals to “exchange information, ideas, and opportunities” in the professional arena. You won’t find photos of the family vacation or gimmicks about poking, playing games, or becoming a fan. You also won’t read about what they had for lunch that day. Instead, you will find search engines for company profiles, which enables users to research potential employers and identify links within their network to that company, as well as search for job postings.
The use of discussion groups facilitates dialogue within specific industries, allowing young and experienced professionals alike to increase their understanding of the issues and engage in the conversation. By developing relationships with others, professionals enhance their presence in the online community and increase their chances of getting noticed by a potential employer. (For more information and details on getting started, check out the tutorial at http://grads.linkedin.com.)
Even Career Services has joined the “Twitterverse” (http://twitter.com/GFUCareers) and created its own Facebook page (George Fox Career Services). We’ve even partnered with academic departments and alumni to engage in dialogue via LinkedIn. We’ve applied the old adage, “If you can’t beat them, join them.” Instead of resisting change, we’ve embraced new media as a way to connect with students and alumni and meet them where they are at in their professional development. Whether or not you view social media as a passing fad, it is part of our current culture, and as such, fresh and seasoned professionals can use it to their advantage.